We humans have had a feud that has lasted ages which is, whether to stick to a vegetarian or a non vegetarian diet. We are aware that both these diets have their pros and cons, but is there a true winner in this dilemma? Let's find out.
On the one hand we have vegetarians. Vegetarians include a well balanced diet that consists of all essential micronutrients and macronutrients. This however, is accomplished barring the consumption of meats and eggs.
On the other hand we have non-vegetarians. Non-vegetarians also include a diet that can fulfill all the dietary requirements that are needed by us. However, they consume eggs, fish, chicken and other meats.
So you must be wondering, where is the fault? Both provide equal nutrition and benefits to the human body. Here are the grounds on which the differences lie.
Not just restricted to non vegetarians, but some vegetarians may opt for meat or other sources to fulfill their nutritional needs. According to a research study, some former omnivores-turned-vegetarians opted for eating fish and meats due to not feeling healthy, concerns about getting enough quality nutrition, a change in living situation or simply missing the taste of meat.
However, another study showed that vegetarians have a lower BMI, which is ideal if you want to lose weight. Vegetarians also showed a lower mortality rate from heart disease, diverticular disease, gallstones and appendicitis.
A final research study showed us that the health benefits associated with vegetarianism can be explained due to the higher dietary quality. However, the non vegetarian counterparts were able to reach the protein and whole grain recommendations with much ease.
A common misconception that goes about is that vegetarians might not meet their fitness goals when it comes to building strength and muscle. However, vegetarians have just as many protein sources such as soy, cottage cheese, lentils and more. R. Madhavan himself built a muscular physique for a movie where he essayed the role of a boxing coach. He did so without the aid of supplements, steroids and remained on a complete vegetarian diet during the time.
However, there is some truth to every myth. Non vegetarians can reach their protein goals with ease everyday. Due to the high amount of protein and other essential nutrients exclusively found in animal products such as Vitamin B12, vegetarians might have to take extra supplements to fulfill those exclusive needs. However, this does not neglect the fact that protein absorption remains the same for both groups. According to a blog on Precision Nutrition, the body can only absorb 8-10g of liquid protein, also known as whey protein shake.
When it comes to choosing between vegetarian and non vegetarian diets, it comes down to what impact do you want your choice to make. If you wish to reduce the cruelty that animals go through, then turning to a vegetarian option might be ideal.
Similarly, if you wish to have all sources of nutrients to be naturally present in your diet, then opt for being an omnivore. Some fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy contain nutrients that are exclusive, so it is important to consume what is necessary but in the right amount. For those who wish to opt for the non vegetarian lifestyle, ensuring that your meats are grass fed and purchasing GMO free eggs can help you also be more ethical.
In the end, it comes down to personal preferences as there is no single best option. Humans are very flexible and have been omnivores for a very long time, so opting for both while being mindful of what you eat can help you lead a healthier lifestyle.
- Perceptions and practices of self-defined current vegetarian, former vegetarian, and nonvegetarian women. Susan I, Barr PhD, RDN, Gwen E Chapman, PhD, RDN
- Key, T., Davey, G., & Appleby, P. (1999). Health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 58(2), 271-275. doi:10.1017/S0029665199000373
- Haley W Parker, Maya K Vadiveloo, Diet quality of vegetarian diets compared with nonvegetarian diets: a systematic review, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 77, Issue 3, March 2019, Pages 144–160,